Since EVE was launched 5 years ago the GM team has answered millions of petitions, written guides and articles to enlighten players and worked extensively with all other departments within CCP to make the EVE universe a better place for our players. While working busily in the background, the GM team hasn’t been the most visible element of CCP but we now have plans to increase our communication with the player base and to allow players to see more of what it is we do.
In this blog we will tell you all about how the global support team is structured and about all the other stuff we do apart from what we are best known for, answering petitions.
To kick this off, let us clear up one common misconception we have encountered about Game Masters.
As we have often noticed through petitions, some people believe that the Customer Support team consists of volunteers. However, while CCP has very capable and enthusiastic volunteers that take care of a wide range of responsibilities, everyone in Customer Support is a paid employee of CCP. What this means for you, is that every issue you seek assistance for through the petition system, is handled by a paid professional and receives the full attention it deserves by CCP staff.
Many of us have been working here as Game Masters for years and most of the first GMs that started working here before EVE was even launched, are still here. The employee turnover of CCP’s support department is far lower than in your regular support center and we like to credit that to the great working conditions CCP staff enjoy, the diverse assignments GMs partake in, and to the never ending adventure that EVE is for both players and staff. This low turnover of GMs results in a much deeper pool of knowledge and more accomplished staff. Something we firmly believe is necessary to provide proper service for the largest and most complex online world in history.
During the last two years our Support Team has spread to all corners of the globe…or a few of them at least. We now have GMs working from four locations worldwide. The largest team operates out of CCP’s HQ in Reykjavík, Iceland. Iceland is where it all started and due to the accumulated experience of the Icelandic team and the daily proximity to CCP management and other departments, the Reykjavík support team acts as the nerve center of CCP’s Customer Support. The second largest and second oldest team operates from CCP’s office in Shanghai, and then we also have teams in Atlanta and Dusseldorf which constantly grow in terms of size and experience.
Winds of change
To meet the ever-growing demand of quality our customers rightfully expect from us, the internal organization of Customer Support was recently completely revamped. GMs were split up into different groups each of which hold different responsibilities. You see, a GMs day at the office isn’t just about answering petitions although that will always be the most prominent part of the job. When not handling petitions, we do a lot of proactive work to reduce the things that players would otherwise be forced to petition about, thus reducing our own workload and making the EVE experience more enjoyable.
So how is the GM team split up and organized exactly?
The Customer Support Service ladder is split into three ranks.
Game Masters are the first (but not the least) level of Customer Support. From Billing and Technical petitions to Game Play or Stuck petitions, Game Masters are always on call to tend to your needs and assist you with any issues you might encounter. 23/7, 365 days a year, come hell or high water…they are there for you.
Game Masters are the eyes and ears of CCP due to their constant interaction with the player base, and are therefore relied on quite a lot to spot potential problems in the game mechanics.
Senior Game Masters:
Senior Game Masters make up the second step of the service ladder. Players can escalate their petitions to a Senior Game Master if they wish to have a second opinion of their case after a full investigation has been performed by a Game Master. Senior Game Masters are bound by the same rules and policies as Game Masters, but serve as your second point of contact should you feel the need for a review on an important matter or if you feel your petition has somehow been mishandled. For further information on escalation rules, please check here.
Senior Game Masters also have increased responsibilities when it comes to complex petitions, meaning that problems widely affecting a large group of players may end up being taken care of by a Senior GM from the start.
Lead Game Masters:
Lead Game Masters each manage their own group of GMs. They tend to administrative duties and the most important cases we have to deal with. When required, petitions are escalated to a Lead Game Master either for a final review of a complex matter, or to have the work of other GMs reviewed. Lead Game Masters are the highest level of Customer Support and as such their decisions are final.
As mentioned before, the Customer Support team is split up into internal groups, each responsible for managing a few areas of expertise. Game Masters are selected into groups based on their skill sets, goals and fields of interest.
The “Back ends” (name derived from their location near the back wall of the Reykjavík GM department) is the group responsible for the technical petition queue and all GM/QA (Quality assurance) relations. The Back ends are also responsible for “GM defect management” which is an important job since GMs identify their fair share of issues and file quite a few defects for our friends in QA to look into and fix. The Back ends are also responsible for following up on the making and maintenance of all the tools that GMs need to perform their duties as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The Braincell group’s (they think they are smart) main responsibility apart from answering petitions is to maintain the Knowledge Base and to make sure that Knowledge Base articles are up to date. They are also responsible for maintaining a list of known issues with the game, and are responsible for all necessary communication with the Game design department.
Hell Cell doesn’t just have a really cool name. They take care of all petitions that have to do with billing and real money issues, and also assist our web programmers in maintaining and improving our billing systems. Due to Hell cell’s focus on billing issues, they are responsible for our relations with the Marketing Department and WebCell (CCP’s team of web programmers). Finally, Hell Cell is in charge of GM Quality control which means that they audit our work regularly and slap us if we fail.
Law & Order
The Law & order group is responsible for creating and maintaining internal and external policies. The external policies are the rules and boundaries we set for our players and on top of that we have a lot of internal policies and procedures to ensure coordination between a large global team. The Law & Order group also goes after the bad guys when needed. They work with our web programmers and the Eve Store on credit card fraud prevention, organize RMT investigations and exploit investigations, and are in charge of our relations with CCP’s Internal Affairs department.
The LiveGroup monitors the status of Tranquility and the effect that server issues have on player activities. They dig around for all sorts of data, do server analysis and make daily reports on the server status. Obviously they work very closely with our Operations team and are responsible for our communication with them.
The Atlanta team’s main responsibility apart from answering petitions is what we refer to as “Queue control”. They monitor the state of the various petition categories, average response times, petition influx and the output of individual GMs. They use this information to make plans that help us evaluate how much manpower is needed in each field at any given time and how much time we have to spare for all the special projects and proactive work we have lined up.
Our GMs in Dusseldorf are a stronghold of multi language support. Additionally to standard TQ support in English, they handle our official support in German. Solving a wide variety of issues in two different languages takes great versatility.
The Shanghai team does TQ support alongside all the other teams. They are a very important link to our Chinese community.
As each of the aforementioned groups is lead by a Lead GM, we also have a LeadGroup which consists of all the Lead GMs and the director of CCP’s global customer support. The LeadGroup works closely together on steering the Support Department. They discuss the hiring of new GMs, take care of administrative duties and make cool plans for the future.
And finally we come to…
InfoGroup, the group responsible for this blog, differs slightly from the other groups due to the fact that many of its responsibilities are new. These include the delivery of GM blogs, publishing an internal GM newsletter and coordinating GM convention participation. By sending more GMs to game conferences and conventions we want to add to our own knowledge, and have our best and brightest out there telling the world all about EVE and the exciting life of interstellar GMs.
More traditional tasks include managing the training of GMs, the creating and maintenance of training material, and the hosting of seminars and lectures for GMs. One of the main reasons InfoGroup was created was to increase and improve information flow, both externally and internally, however the training part of our agenda is the backbone of what we are all about. With our global team growing in direct correlation with subscriber growth, we need to make sure that our training program keeps up and keeps delivering kickass GMs and great service.
The creation of InfoGroup means that you will be hearing more from us GMs in the future. With increased communication you will start seeing more red bars on the forums, more blogs from the GM team on current issues, and red text on the help channels as time allows.
Internally we have started sending out a monthly newsletter about everything that goes on in GM Land, both to keep GMs around the world updated on what is going on everywhere else, and to include the rest of the company in our wheeling and dealing.
We hope this blog has given you all a little more insight into what a GM’s job entails and what we are all about. If you have any tips and pointers for us about issues you would like to see addressed in future blogs, we are very open to ideas.
Thank you for reading and fly safe.